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A woman I don’t know well told me in the produce section of the grocery store that she had miscarried a couple weeks ago. She revealed this to me because she wanted to explain what happened next.

She was so distraught that after her appointment at the hospital she had leaned against the hallway wall for support and sank to the floor.

“I was crouching and sobbing,” she said. “Suddenly, a woman who looked like a grandma came over to me. I don’t know where she came from. She hugged me without saying a word. I cried on her shoulder for a minute. Then she stood up and left. I’m not sure she was real, but does it matter? She was there for me when I needed her most.”

I went silent for a moment, trying to imagine how you could not know if someone was real if she was hugging you, to picture what this grandma looked like. A wise woman archetype, I thought.

I have never been helped by anyone I wasn’t absolutely sure was real. No one else I know has either. But this woman has always seemed very grounded to me.

Who am I to say that there aren’t guardian angels or other spiritual beings who can come in a crisis to help if no real human being steps forward?

“No, it doesn’t matter,” I said. “Sometimes, the people who take care of us aren’t whom we would expect.”

Angel by Sarah Mclachlan